BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) –- Call it the Miracle on 17th Street. Or the Mud Fight on 17th Street. Either fits – and after 55 exhausting minutes of basketball, I’m not going to argue because this is at least my fourth rewrite of this story.

Quinn Buckner, Isiah Thomas, Victor Oladipo, none of them played in a game like this. Call it the first triple overtime game in the 46-year history of Assembly Hall. Call it something to celebrate during a season when too often the primary thing Indiana has been calling is an orthopedic surgeon.

Tom Crean and his Indiana basketball players don’t care what you call it.

They’ll simply request an extra serving of fluids, a day off from practice and celebrate their 110-102 triple-OT victory over Penn State. It was a game the Hoosiers won, lost, won, lost, won, lost and eventually survived.

Get out the record book and follow along. Four Hoosiers – Robert Johnson, Josh Newkirk, Thomas Bryant and freshman Devonte Green – scored career highs. Credit Johnson, Bryant and Green with double-doubles -- and Johnson and Green are guard who had at least 10 rebounds.

Bob Hammel, my pick as the historian of Indiana basketball, said he believed it was the first time in school history three Indiana players scored 27 or more points in a game.

"I hope I coach a while longer, but I'll remember this one for the rest of my life," Crean said.

The Hoosiers were ahead by 13. They were behind by four. They were ahead by 10 in the third overtime – and still sweating a Penn State jump shot in the final minute. Yes, they made too many turnovers. They also made nearly 53 percent of their shots and outrebounded Penn State by 21.

They were without James Blackmon Jr., their leading scorer and the guy who made the three-point shot at the buzzer to beat Penn State in State College. They were also without sophomore OG Anunoby (who had knee surgery in New York City earlier this week) and Collin Hartman (who had his surgery before the season). But nobody talks about the absence of those guys any more.

Play on.

“There’s no quit in these guys,” said Johnson. “We just kept fighting. It didn’t matter who made the plays.”

“The players deserve the credit tonight,” Crean said.

Will this change the arc of Indiana’s season, which sagged after a dismal 30-point loss to Michigan and a 13-point stumble against Northwestern in the last week?

Crean believes it will have carryover. The coach was so wired after the game that he was still drinking a Venti cup of Starbucks that he said was a leftover from before the game.

Crean called it a game that he will never forget, comparing it to a triple overtime game that he coached against Louisville and Denny Crum during his second season at Marquette.

“We’ve got to get better, and being able to battle through something like that helps them understand they can do it again if need be,” Crean said.

Stay tuned is all I can say.

I can’t even answer what happened Wednesday night. Indiana led most of the first half and did not trail in the second half until the final 38 seconds. De’Ron Davis, the back-up center, rescued the Hoosiers with two free throws in the final 3.9 seconds for a tie at 72. He might be 6 feet 10 but he stepped to the line and delivered like Steve Alford. Swish, swish.

The first overtime was equally absurd. Penn State led by four with about a minute and a half to play. The Nittany Lions bricked a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds. The Hoosiers were saved on a layup by Josh Newkirk that beat the buzzer by 0.0000000001 seconds – not that anybody at Penn State will ever agree with that. 

The officials ruled the basket good. Then they checked the monitor -- and kept studying the replay for nearly five minutes.

“I was a little nervous at first (that the shot would be waved off after a review),” Newkirk said. “But then I looked at the replay and saw it was in.”

“Was it close?” Crean asked.


“Whatever,” Crean said, before a smile spread across his face.

Don’t ask Penn State coach Patrick Chambers for his opinion. Somebody pressed him about it a second time after the game and it was the final question of his press conference.

"Truthfully if we made our free throws it would not have come to that," Chambers said. "I am not going to comment."

Make it 80-80 and add another five minutes to the clock.

Indiana burped away a six-point lead in the second overtime – and did it in the final two minutes. Penn State guard Tony Carr, who turned down a scholarship from Indiana, made two free throws with 4.5 seconds left.

Make it 93-93. You guessed it. Add five more minutes.

Crean’s team scored 11 of the first 13 points in overtime, but nobody left the building to beat the traffic. Penn State sliced the Indiana lead to 106-102 and had the basketball.

Not this time. Shep Garner missed a jumper and Indiana finished the final 30 seconds with a victory that improved the Hoosiers’ record to 15-8 overall and 5-5 in the Big Ten.

Here is the rundown on the four Indiana players who scored career highs:

Thomas Bryant – give him 31 points and 11 rebounds in 44 minutes.

In his last two games, Bryant has played like the guy who was featured on the cover of multiple pre-season magazines. Credit Bryant with 54 points and 23 rebounds against Northwestern and Penn State after having only 55 points and 26 rebounds in his previous five games.

Devonte Green. One reason Green is at Indiana is that the Hoosiers had a scholarship to give after Carr and freshman Lamar Stephens committed to Penn State. Give him 10 points and 10 rebounds in 45 minutes. He's barely 6 feet. He shrugged off missing two free throws late in the second half to make a critical steal and layup that put the Hoosiers ahead five early in the third overtime.

Newkirk is often called the Much Maligned Josh Newkirk. He’s not Yogi Ferrell. He’s never going to be Yogi Ferrell.

But for one night Newkirk did a reasonable impersonation of Ferrell. Not only did he make four shots from distance, Newkirk scored 27 points in 46 minutes.

Give the third double-double to Johnson. He had 27 points and 11 rebounds in 50 minutes.

Surprised that three players finished with double-doubles?

“We had enough time to do it, so not really,” Johnson said.

Somehow the Hoosiers twisted a Must Win into a Near Stumble and then into an Unforgettable Survival.

Indiana's next two games are against two of the three best teams in the league, teams the Hoosiers were supposed to battle to defend their Big Ten regular season title – at Wisconsin on Super Bowl Sunday and back in Bloomington against Purdue Feb. 9.

“We’ll practice at 6:30 or 7 (in the morning),” Crean said.

The one-liners come easier when the scoreboard tilts in your favor.

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